The Times correctly reported that HMS Diamond has had to abort her Gulf deployment and return to home for repairs. The defect concerns the propellor but is not directly related to the engine issues that have been the primary cause of Type 45 destroyer woes. Unfortunately, the problem cannot be rectified by dry docking in Bahrain or Gibraltar and requires the attention of specialists in Portsmouth.
In recent years the RN has maintained single frigate or destroyer East of Suez on Operation Kipion. Patrolling the Gulf and the Indian Ocean on maritime security operations is an important priority for the RN and Diamonds departure will mean there is now no major RN warship in the region for the first time in since the Armilla Patrol was established in the early 1980s. This defect once again exposes how over-stretched the RN surface fleet has become as there are no replacements close to hand. While HMS Diamond’s ships company can enjoy Christmas at home, another ship is likely to have a radical change of program, Kipion is a priority tasking for the RN.
The only RN warship currently in the Mediterranean is HMS Ocean on her last major deployment as flagship for NATO Standing Maritime Group 2. HMS Diamond had already deputised for HMS Ocean in this role during September while Ocean made a dash across the Atlantic to support hurricane relief work in the Caribbean. At the end of October, HMS Ocean returned to the Mediterranean and HMS Diamond formally handed over to her at Souda Bay in Crete. She then sailed for the Gulf to relieve HMS Monmouth.